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Performer and writer Fran Bushe: ‘Do I want to talk about my vagina on stage?; What will that mean for the future?’

Fran Bushe Fran Bushe

Comedian, writer and performer Fran Bushe will be taking an autobiographical show about her sex life to this year’s Vault Festival in London. She tells Giverny Masso why she feels it is important to share something so personal on stage…

What is your show Ad Libido about?

It’s about me trying to learn to enjoy sex. I realised I was not enjoying the sex I was having and I had to make a decision as to whether I was okay with that or not. There is a lot of taboo around female pleasure, as if it’s a luxury or indulgence.

How did you develop the show?

I did a workshop with Bryony Kimmings before submitting a proposal to the Pleasance Theatre, where I went in for two weeks of research and development and spent two nights sharing that material. It came together in quite a structured way and the audience really responded, both women and men. I’d never spoken about the fact I was not enjoying sex before and I didn’t know it was classified as a medical condition: female sexual dysfunction. The more I speak to people, the more I realise it’s really common. 43% of women have suffered it at some point in their life.

When people search me on the internet and ‘sex play’ is the first thing that comes up, how do I feel about that?

How did you feel about sharing something so personal on stage?

I was so nervous. It’s so revealing and I felt vulnerable, but it’s important to talk about. I’ve had days where I’ve been worried and I’ve sent messages saying “Do I want to talk about my vagina on stage?; What will that mean for the future?; When people search me on the internet and ‘sex play’ is the first thing that comes up, how do I feel about that?”

What are your future plans for the show?

We are talking to a couple of charities and hoping to run workshops to have a place for people to write down their experiences, keep a blog and keep it anonymous for those who want it. I’m hoping to take it to Edinburgh and other festivals and I am speaking to theatres to see if we can go on tour.

How did you get into theatre?

I went to drama school and did the whole ‘wear a leotard and become a camel for a month’ thing. I then came out into the industry and found it very difficult. As many people do, I struggled with waiting for the phone to ring. I have a memory of going to an audition for a leading department store Christmas advert, where they wanted an actress who was my casting exactly. It was casting through the ages, so there was a four-year-old me, a 12-year-old, 30-year-old up to a 60 or 70-year-old me. I remember seeing 10 versions of me; it was very surreal.

Tell me about some of your other work?

I have done a lot of different things [including comedy, writing, performance], which feels like a good place to be in. That’s the way people are having to make work. It’s also what audiences want – work that does not fit into a set model. I have always written as well as acted and I’ve done a number of writing courses, including the Royal Court Young Writers. I teach a couple of days a week. I do A-level drama and I have a few GCSE students. They benefit from having someone who does the stuff they are learning about in the classroom.

CV: Fran Bushe

Training: MA in acting at Arts Educational Schools (2009)
First professional role: The Site at the Roundhouse in London (Hampstead Theatre)
Agent: None

Ad Libido runs at London’s Vault Festival from February 21-25

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